Tuesday, August 4, 2020

I would say normal parenting confessions but probably not

I just had a conversation with a couple of friends about expectations of ourselves and each other as parents during this stupid stupidtime and the futility of making comparisons with other people and in the spirit of keeping things real would like to provide you with a balanced account of how we are doing here in this last week before we transition from fighting about nothing to fighting about school.

1. The kids watch a ****-ton of TV. It has been on since 7:30 this morning. It is a hundred degrees outside and everyone is sick of each other and the only thing that keeps them unified is the carefully developed system they have for who chooses the show. Every time I turn it off my day gets a lot harder, so why mess with it, I say.

2. Last night the two big kids went outside to play at eight o'clock at night. I didn't want the little kids to go out with them so that meant I had to find them something to do. What I *had* been planning was to put everyone to bed early so that *I* could have control over the TV and let's be honest the wine. We pacified them by getting out the Mexican Train dominos for a game and then that turned into listening to Texas country which turned into teaching the little kids how to Two Step. Naturally this fifteen minutes of super-parenting ended up on social media.

3. At quarter to ten I texted a neighbor to see if she knew where my kids were.

4. I spent an hour today reading correspondence from the primary kids' teachers, adding items to our shared calendar, and making a Google Doc with all of their zoom information.

5. After this I turned on the Gilmore Girls and went facedown in a bag of Mint Milanos.

6. And then the piano tuner came by for a quick repair and while I was holding open the top of the piano for him (mask on, hands completely over my head, holding something sort of heavy and delicate) I was whisper screaming over my shoulder at the children to STOP HOPPING AROUND ME MANIACALLY AND SOMEONE PLEASE GO CLOSE THE DAMNED DOOR.

6b. It is hard to communicate via whisper screaming while wearing a face mask.

7. One of my kids tortures another one by singing a song from our closing campfire in Maine.

8. The kids and I binge Gilmore Girls together. It is not appropriate by my pre-pandemic standards, but this is not pre-pandemic time! We all love it.

9. We are going to drive-through communion tomorrow, together as a family. If last week's drive in church is any indication I will need a second round of communion before we get back on the highway.

10. I started paying James a nickel a glass to drink water.

11. I had school supplies delivered in a timely enough fashion that I did not have to overspend or panic buy.

12. I remember my login information for zero of the kids' learning management systems.

13. And the story I will forever use to win every parenting conversation ever: Once my impeccably dressed backdoor neighbor came over to apologize profusely to me (wearing pajamas at 9:45 in the morning) because her dog seemed to have escaped her yard into mine and there dug up "one of our old pets" and dragged its SKELETON back through the fence into her yard. She was terribly sorry. I assured her that everything was fine, said my goodbyes, closed the door, and then turned around and yelled at a kid "I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO STOP BRINGING HOME SKELETONS!" 99% sure she heard me.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

I will miss this formless schedule void when we go back to zoom school next week

We've been back for a week and the impending start of "school" in seven days has me instinctively wishing I could wear jeans and cardigans even though the temperature is forecast to reach a hundred every day this week. August is always such a confusing and disappointing month. It's the hottest month of summer, but everyone is sick of the pool and watermelon and popsicles and EACH OTHER. It will be much more confusing this year since "school" will be not so much a place that we *go* as a thing that we *do*. Together. In our game room. Did I mention together? Because TOGETHHHEEEERRRR.

There will be no morning rush (except for the teenager who will now have to wake up before lunch), no friends, no away time, and most importantly, no adorable pleated skirts.

It feels like a different lifetime that we ever had lives that were separate from each other and I honestly can't even picture what it's like to have a job outside of the home (I remember something about clean hair and wearing accessories?). I had a flash of panic this afternoon when I remembered that I am starting a MASTERS program in a MONTH. One that I imagine is pretty intimidating in completely different way than my last grad school experience was (fewer differential equations, I'm guessing, probably no soldering).

The good news is that the blind panic I was feeling in the spring regarding home school has mellowed into resignation and the other good news is that our nanny is free two days a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays are my new favorite things).

The first week home from Maine was an absolute trainwreck as expected. No one was happy to be home, the house felt like a dark, dirty prison (my house accumulates a biblical amount of dust if we don't sweep daily for reasons I don't understand/a ghost), we couldn't invite friends over, and since they had spent two weeks away from the computers I felt like the sum total of my interaction with the kids was to argue about computer time. And one of my best/worst qualities is that after ending any given day in a heap of despair, I always resolve to pick myself up and do better the next day. I am nothing if not persistent. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes this causes unrealistic expectations. Often this causes unrealistic expectations. Returning from the high of Maine into a quarantine prison is not the time for high expectations, I know this now.

Bright spots!

Mary tried out for the year round swim team Charley and James are on and she did SO GOOD. She is in! Can I just say that I want to be Mary when I grow up? She is FEARLESS. The coach asked her in soft voice if she knows any of the strokes and she replied simply, "I know ALL the strokes." Don't underestimate the six year old in the adorable cherry swimsuit. She can start as soon as they can add more sessions, since they can only have three swimmers per lane right now. Hopefully soon?


We went to celebrate with drive through donuts and then walked barefoot (anyone else's kids stop wearing shoes) through an empty lot to eat them under the town water tower.


I accidentally bought eight dollars worth of key limes in my curbside order on Monday and I am determined to use them all. Wes and I made this amazing key lime cake that I carried around the house with me all day so they wouldn't sneak it while I wasn't looking. It made it to dessert and was delicious.


Friday we tried out a new hike and bike trail along a river near us. Only it started out overcast and as soon as we got to the end of the trail 0.9 miles from the car the sun popped out and it got oppressively hot. When we finally got back to the car I texted a friend "The next time I tell you I'm screwing up the kids remind me that I carried an eighty pound child on my back for half a mile while cheerfully singing "Father Abraham" the entire time when it was a hundred degrees outside." So that went well. Fun hike though! (We drove straight to Sonic where I ordered a round of ice waters in addition to their usual slushies because I thought we were all about to perish of dehydration. This resulted in a WILDLY IRRESPONSIBLE amount of styrofoam and I am awaiting Greenpeace's strongly-worded letter).

We have one more week of freedom before we're all going to be on zoom for six hours a day. Fortunately the kids start a month before me and I am optimisticly thinking I will use this time to develop some kind of sustainable routine. Stop laughing.